I can’t tell you how it pains me to hear these words “wow – you two must be rich to be able to go all these places.” It pains me because it simply isn’t true. There are many ways for people to travel with very little to no money, it just takes a will to do it and some creativity. So in this post, we want to share with you some easy things people can do to save money to travel, plan an affordable trip, and even ways to make money on the road so you can extend your travels.
Ways to Save Money for Travel
One of the biggest obstacles people have when it comes to planning a trip is saving up enough money to go. But for most of us, it really comes down to determination and being willing to make some sacrifices to save. Unless your financial situation is dire, there are many ways to save money for vacation. From cutting back on expensive coffees at Starbucks, or even making it a point do dine out less and cook at home. For us, we also restrict any kind of frivilous shopping or activities that aren’t necessary.
Just doing this for a couple months, you would be surprised at how quickly the savings can add up.
Another recommendation we make to people who want to save money for vacation is to create a separate travel savings account. It REALLY helps to keep this account separate from your daily living expenses because the saying is true: “out of sight, out of mind.” So you are far less likely to spend it. You might even forget it’s there!
For more details about this topic, be sure to check out our complete post about our 5 steps save money for a vacation.
Be Wise About How & When You Plan the Trip
While some last minute travel deals may pop up, we’ve found that planning in advance of your trip really tends to make it less expensive. We recommend planning 3-6 months before your trip, and book your trip around 1-2 months prior. Personally, we have discovered that flight bookings tend to be best around one month prior — but some people feel more comfortable to book the flight first.
As far as the best time of year to travel, that depends on your destination. We always recommend planning your trip during “shoulder season” — which is typically just before or after high season. For example, if you want to visit Europe – don’t go in the summer because it is high season. Not only is it more crowded and hot in the summer, but prices are very high. Traveling in the Fall is much better in Europe because it is shoulder season. Crowds are lower and it is less expensive. But most popular attractions are still open and the weather is more pleasant.
While traveling in low season may give you the best price, beware because some destinations are not very enjoyable during that time. For example, it could be monsoon season or freezing cold…and perhaps none of the tourist attractions are open. So be sure to look into this before planning your trip.
Lastly, be creative when it comes to transportation and accommodation options on your trip. Personally, we love staying in Airbnb’s during our travels because they are an affordable option and offer a unique local experience. But one option that many people overlook are hostels — but for some, they are actually a great option. And we don’t mean just for young college kids. As adults, we have found that there are so many misconceptions about hostels. In fact, some hostels are more like boutique hotels anyway! So it’s definitely something to consider. Who knows, you may end up saving quite a lot of money and have a great experience!
Alternative Budget Experiences During Your Trip
Over the course of our travels, one of the things we’ve discovered is that many people end up spending a fortune on all the activities and day tours. But you don’t have to spend a fortune! Overall, day tours are great when you need to pack a lot into a short amount of time. But if you have a little flexibility and a couple days, then we recommend doing some things on your own. One way to explore on your own is to do walking tours using your smartphone. In fact, some travel destinations have downloadable tours for FREE!
Another budget option is to consider doing some Geocaching during your travels. Geocaching is a scavenger hunt game that we like to play — and it’s great for taking you on an inexpensive walking tour of a city. Lastly, similar to Airbnb there are a number of websites that connect you with locals who are willing to take you around on a tour for a very reasonable price. This is a great way to connect with the culture by having a local guide!
Finally, sometimes you don’t need to fill your schedule with activity after activity. Doing basic things like strolling through a market, relaxing at a beach, or going for a hike can be great ways to enjoy your vacation…and these are all free activities. Plus, if you are willing to rent local transportation and do a bit of research, you may be able to take yourself on your own tour of an area without having to pay a tour guide. Many times, we’ve even downloaded tour guide itineraries online and then just drove ourselves to those same destinations — sometimes, you don’t always need a guide if you are adventurous enough to go on your own…and willing to do a bit of work ahead of time to plan!
Staying on the Road – Even if You Don’t Have Much Money
In some instances, people want to go for more than just a short vacation — they actually want to travel the world for an extended period of time. We know how this goes, because we’ve done it ourselves on our own Around the World Adventure! It’s crazy for some to fathom, but it really is totally possible to travel the world on very little money. There are many websites such as Workaway or Woofing which enable you to connect with locals to do some work in exchange for accommodation and even meals. But in other instances, you may want to do some work for money on the road – and luckily, the internet makes that possible!
As digital nomads ourselves, we can attest to the fact that it is totally possible to make money online while traveling. From creating online businesses, teaching English, or providing business services or writing an essay about traveling.
Stop Procrastinating and Start Planning Your Trip Now!
From our experience, it’s the procrastination and excuses that really keep people from traveling…not the money (in most cases). So don’t sit around wishing you could travel — actually move forward with making a plan to do it. Start saving now and use some of these tips here to put together a budget-friendly trip that you will remember for years to come. And when it comes to planning your trip, we have so many tools here on our website to help you and we are more than happy to help you ourselves.
Happy travel planning to you!